In Flanders Fields

by
John McCrae (1872-1918)
 
 
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
 
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie 
In Flanders fields.
 
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
We just returned from our village Memorial Day parade and remembrance ceremony and I feel a bittersweet mix of gratitude for our fallen service members, grief at their passing, and joy that I have been privileged to know some real life heroes. 

Every Memorial Day I come back to John McCrae’s poem In Flanders Fields. It is about another war in another time, but it speaks to me in a way no other war poem does. Over the last ten years, as we’ve lost friends to the war, Memorial Day has become personal. When McCrea writes “We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow, Loved and were loved,” he is describing my friends. Friends who lived–who sat by the campfire, celebrated children’s birthdays, lent and borrowed tools, told hilarious stories, and made big and small differences in this world. Friends who I remember not just today, but always, and who inspire me to live life to the fullest.